How to Apply for a Switzerland Schengen Visa for UK Residents
Home to the picturesque hamlets and the glittering lakes, Switzerland prides itself in some jaw-dropping sceneries filled with loads of storybook charm. Known for its mountains, clocks, chocolate, cheese, and political neutrality, Switzerland offers a chance for travellers to discover the pleasing landscape brimmed with seasonal flora and fauna, tourist attractions in Switzerland consist of some well-groomed alpines of Davos and the blankets of fluffy snow in the Jungfraujoch.
Switzerland is not only famous for its beauty, but the culture, food, adventure sports, and historical monuments also make thousands of tourists flock here. From the unequalled alpine sceneries of The Matterhorn in Zermatt to the ancient artefacts preserved in the museums of Bern, Switzerland is truly a place where one can experience the best blend of history with nature
Switzerland Entry Restrictions in Response to Coronavirus
In early 2020, Switzerland joined its Schengen country neighbours in closing its borders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The country has since re-opened its borders to allow travel, but with restrictions that depend on your country of origin.
Switzerland, like other Schengen countries, updates its restrictions regularly depending on the current situation so it’s best to check with the restrictions close to your travel date to know the updated measures and requirements before you travel. You should check on the latest news regarding restrictions, quarantine or whether a test will be required either from reliable news sources, the Swiss government website, or the UK government website one to two weeks before your trip.
EU Digital COVID Certificate
The EU Digital COVID Certificate was available starting 1 July 2021, provides proof that a person has either:
- been vaccinated against COVID-19
- received a negative test result, PCR or rapid antigen,
- or has recovered from COVID-19
The EU Digital COVID Certificate grants travellers the same rights as vaccinated, tested or recovered citizens of the EU Member State they are visiting and allows travel into the EU. EU citizens and residents can have their Digital COVID Certificates issued and verified across the EU.
Who Can Apply for a Switzerland Schengen Visa from the UK?
Travelling to Switzerland for EU/EEA Citizens
Switzerland is a Schengen country, which allows for free movement between the 26 EU and EFTA states (Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland). A uniform Schengen visa issued by one of the Schengen states is valid for travel within the whole Schengen area.
Travelling to Switzerland Post-Brexit for UK Citizens
The rules for travelling or working in European countries changed on 1 January 2021:
- you can travel to countries in the Schengen area for up to 90 days in any 180-day period without a visa as a tourist, to visit family or friends, to attend business meetings, cultural or sports events, or for short-term studies or training
- if you are travelling to Switzerland and other Schengen countries without a visa, make sure your whole visit is within the 90-day limit. Visits to Schengen countries within the previous 180 days before you travel count towards your 90 days
- for long-stay visits, to work or study, for business or for other reasons, you will need to meet the Swiss government’s entry requirements.
- if you stay in Switzerland with a residence permit or long-stay visa, this does not count towards your 90-day visa-free limit
Any time you spent in Switzerland or other Schengen countries before 1 January 2021 does not count towards your 90-day visa-free limit. At Swiss border control, you may need to use separate lanes from EU, EEA and Swiss citizens when queueing. Your passport may be stamped on entry and exit. You may also need to:
- show a return or onward ticket
- show you have enough money for your stay
If you are a resident of Switzerland, you should carry proof of your residence when travelling. Read more on the UK government website.
Travelling to Switzerland Post-Brexit for Other Third Country Citizens
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The main requirement is that you must have a UK residence permit valid for at least another three more months beyond the date you plan to leave Switzerland or the Schengen Area.
Before starting a visa application, or getting a flight to Switzerland, make sure to check whether you need a visa to Switzerland or not.
If you have a 3-month UK visa you can extend it for three more months in order to be eligible to apply for a Switzerland Schengen visa from within the UK. You must apply for an extension before your visa expires and while you’re still in the UK.
Note: You can stay in the UK until the decision about the extension is taken, but only if you have applied within the visa period.
You should apply for a Switzerland visa at the appropriate Switzerland Embassy/Consulate or Switzerland visa application centre in the UK if:
- You are only visiting Swtizerland in the Schengen area – This means that if you want to visit Switzerland only, you will not be allowed to apply for a visa for Switzerland. You must plan to visit Switzerland in order to qualify for the visa.
- You will spend most of your visiting days in Switzerland – If you are doing a tour around Europe and the Schengen zone countries, you will have to apply for the visa in the country you will be staying the longest. So, if you want to visit Germany for 5 days, Belgium for 4 days, and the Netherlands for 3 days, you are eligible to apply for the visa in Switzerland. If you are staying longer in another country, then you cannot apply for a visa in Switzerland.
- It is the first country you plan on visiting – If you are planning to visit other Schengen countries, you can apply for the Swiss visa only if Switzerland is the first country you will visit from your tour. You will need to first enter the country from which you have obtained your visa in order to be allowed to visit others in the Schengen area.
In case you plan on staying in Switzerland for more than 90 days you must apply for a residency permit, not a Switzerland Schengen visa.
Please, note that if you are not a resident in the United Kingdom you should apply at the Switzerland Embassy/Consulate/VAC in your home country of residence.
Steps to Applying for a Swiss Schengen Visa from the UK
Step 1: Know your visa type and validity
There are 2 types of visa that you can apply for and the one you need will depend on the duration of your trip and your reason for travelling to Switzerland:
- Short-stay (Schengen) Visa – valid for up to 90 days (in a 180-day period) for the purposes of tourism, business, visiting family/friends, conference, EEA/EU national family member
- Residence and work permits (Long stays) – you should apply for this kind of visa if you want to live in Switzerland for more than 90 days for employment, family reunification, study, research etc.
Step 2: Identify where to make application and book an appointment
To apply for a Switzerland visa from the UK you can do either of the following:
- through TLScontact offices in London, Edinburgh and Manchester or
- through services like IAM, that will make sure that your application has the best chance of being approved
Step 3: Complete your application form
The Schengen Visa application form contains questions about you including:
- Name and surname
- Date and place of birth
- Sex and marital status
- National Identity number
- Passport number
- Home address and email
- Purpose of trip
- Question regarding previous trips to Schengen, if any
- Intended date of arrival in Schengen area you are visiting, and the intended period of stay
- Cost of traveling and remaining in Schengen area you are visiting, who will cover them, etc.
Make sure your answers are correct and that they comply with the information in the rest of the documents. Complete the form, print it twice, and sign both copies at the end.
Find out more about how to complete a Schengen vis application form in this blog post.
Step 4: Prepare your documents
The following list of documents are required in order to obtain a visa to Switzerland in the UK:
- A valid passport or travel document. Please make sure that:
- Your passport has been issued within the previous 10 years,
- Your passport has 2 full blank pages, one for the visa stamp and an additional spare page,
- Your passport will be valid for at least three (3) months after the date you exit the Schengen Area.
- A valid UK residence permit or other forms of Identity Card. The UK residency permit must be endorsed in the actual passport (or on a new biometric ID card)
- One application form. The form should be fully, honestly, and correctly completed, printed, and signed at the end.
- One passport format photo that has a light background, is brightly coloured and shows full face features. The photo must be less than six months old and be glued to the application form. Applications with stapled photographs will be rejected.
- Biometric data (Applies only if you haven’t provided biometric data within the last 59 months):
- A copy of the passport bio page where the photo is included.
Note: Children under the age of 12 are exempted from providing fingerprints.
- A cover letter that explains the purpose of the visit to Switzerland
- Proof of travel arrangements: Round trip flight/travel reservations or other proof of intended transport and complete itinerary of your visit to Switzerland (if several Schengen States will be visited or if the trip covers the several Schengen States and non-Schengen countries).
- Travel health insurance which covers at least 30,000 Euros and is valid for all Schengen countries
- Proof of accommodation in Switzerland:
- Evidence of a hotel booking or rental agreement, or
- Invitation from your Swiss host (family member, friend) with a copy of their passport (Proof of sponsorship)
- Proof of financial subsistence:
- A recent statement of UK bank account for the last three months that show funds of at least 95€ per person per day spent in Switzerland or
- 3 most recent payslips, or
- Online statements with the applicant’s name
Note: Cash is not considered proof of financial subsistence.
Note: Photocopies of the original documents should also be submitted and documents should not be more than one month old.
The documents listed above are documents required in all cases, regardless of the purpose of your visit to Switzerland.
Additional documents required for Switzerland Visa Application depending on employment status
- Employment contract
- Current bank statement of the latest 6 months
- Leave permission from the employer
- Income Tax Return (ITR) form or Certificate of Income Tax deducted at the source of salary
For the self-employed:
- A copy of your business license
- Company bank statement of the latest 6 months
- Income Tax Return (ITR)
For foreign students in the UK:
- Proof of enrollment
- No-objection certificate from school or university
- Pension statement of the latest 6 months
If unemployed and married to an EU citizen:
- A recent (less than 3 months old) Confirmation of Employment letter from their spouse’s employer stating the position held within the company as well as the starting date,
- Spouse’s valid passport
- An officially translated marriage certificate. The translation must be in English or Switzerland and must be certified as a true copy by the Embassy of the country where the marriage took place or by the Legalization Bureau of the Foreign Office in the UK
Requirements for children under the age of 18:
A parent or an adult guardian are required to accompany their underage children to the application centre at the Embassy of Switzerland in London. Also, minors who are granted a Switzerland visa are not allowed to travel to Switzerland by themselves. They should be accompanied by an adult during their stay in Switzerland.
Apart from the general documentation required, accompanying should be other additional documents depending on the purpose of your Switzerland Visa application.
Additional documents required for the most frequent purposes of Switzerland visa application
Switzerland Tourist/Visitor Visa:
- Invitation letter from your family or friends in the Switzerland with the address and phone number – if applicable
- Bank statement of the last 6 months
- Passport copies
Switzerland Visa for Business Purposes:
- Invitation letter from the Switzerland company you will be visiting and their detailed address accompanied with the dates of your visit
- A certificate from your employer stating/allowing your business travel
- If there were previous trade relations between the two companies, proof of such events must be provided
- Business bank statement of the latest 6 months
- Memorandum and Article of Association in original certified copy (registered with joint stock companies) Trade License (first issued and present renewal), Proprietorship/Partnership documents
- Regarding the applicant’s expenses during stay in the Schengen zone, either the employer or the partner company must state coverage of expenses on the letter or invitation.
Switzerland Visa for Medical Purposes:
- A local medical report
- A medical attestation from the hospital or doctor in Switzerland, confirming the date of your appointment as well as your medical situation
- Payment receipt of medical fees
Switzerland Visa for Cultural, Sports, Film Crew or Religious Purposes:
- Invitation letter from the above-mentioned authorities with details upon the nature of events or activities – purpose of visit, expense coverage
- Names of the applicants (crew members)
- Duration of stay
- Travel itinerary
Switzerland Visa for Members of Official Delegations:
- The official invitation copy
- Identity of applicant
- Purpose of journey (negotiations, meetings, event by intergovernmental organizations, consultations)
- Duration of stay
- Place of accommodation
Switzerland Visa for Study, Training, Research, or other types of Internship Purposes:
- An enrollment certificate allowing attendance of courses
- Certificate of completion or courses attended
- Financial sustenance
Switzerland Airport Transit Visa:
- Visa or other type of entry permit in the transit country
- Copy of your valid visa for your final destination
Required documents for visa application for underage children:
All documents provided should be legalized.
Step 5: Attend your appointment
The visa interview is a meeting between you and the consular officer/interviewer. During this interview, the consular officer will ask you several questions about you and your intended trip. You will also be submitting the required documents throughout the meeting, to the interviewer.
Read more about how to ace your Schengen visa interview in our blog post: Schengen Visa Interview Questions and Answers and How to Prepare for it!
Visa Fees for UK Residents
The fee must be paid upon submitting the Switzerland visa application. After you complete this payment, you will receive a receipt, which shows that payment has been made, which must be offered amongst other documents of the application dossier. You will have to pay a Switzerland visa fee in order for your application to be processed.
Since Switzerland is a Schengen state, visa fees are the same as any other Schengen visa. Find out about the Schengen visa fee in our blog post: Schengen Visa Fees – How Much Does a Schengen Visa Cost?
Switzerland Schengen Visa Fee Exemptions
The following persons are exempted from the Switzerland visa fee:
- Children younger than 6 years of age
- Spouse/family member of an EU/EEA national
- Documents required for exemption:
- Original Marriage Certificate, or
- Original Birth Certificate
- Civil Partnership Certificate
- EU/EAA national’s passport.
- Documents required for exemption:
Switzerland Schengen Visa Fee Discounts
Besides children of ages between 6 and 12 these are the countries whose nationals receive visa fee discounts (£31.00):
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
Step 6: Receive your visa
Visa Application Processing Time in UK
You can apply for a Switzerland Schengen Visa 6 months before your planned trip. Depending on the nationality of the applicant, the processing time may take at least 15 days from the day of application. In some cases when required documents are missing from the application this process may take longer.
Therefore, to avoid unwanted complications, the Switzerland Consulate General in London advises that you provide all required documents and submit your application at least 20 work days (4 weeks) before the day you leave for Switzerland.
Visa Application Decision
- Approved – Once your visa is approved, it will be stamped in your passport. Make sure to carefully check the visa sticker to make sure everything is correct and exactly how you need it.
- Rejected – if your visa has been rejected, it would have been for a specific reason and you have the right to appeal.
Visa Application Rejection
There are a few common reasons why your visa application might be rejected. For example, if you provide illegitimate or insufficient documents, apply for the wrong type of visa, or fail your immigration interview.
If your visa application is rejected, you will not be refunded for your application. You will need to either appeal or file the application again. To avoid this hassle, make sure your documents are in order and you fill out the form correctly. With a service like IaM, we check your application before submission to ensure the highest possibility of having your visa application approved.
Common Swtizerland Schengen Visa Rejection Reasons
Some common reasons for a Switzerland Schengen visa rejection are:
- Marriage certificate missing – if you are applying for a visa for family reasons, you may have to prove family ties. This is why you must provide a marriage certificate
- You applied for the wrong visa – it is your responsibility to apply for the correct visa depending on how long you are going to Switzerland for and your reason for travelling there
- It is not clear that you plan to return to the UK – it must be clear that you intend to return to the UK before the visa expires. If the visa staff have doubts about this, your visa will be rejected
- The purpose of your trip cannot be established – the reason why you are planning to go to Switzerland must be made clear. You can do this by providing specific documents like a full itinerary, work contract or invitation letter, etc.
Find out more about the common reasons for a visa rejection and how to avoid them in our blog post: Visa Refused: 9 Common Reasons Why Visas Get Rejected.
What if my Switzerland Schengen Visa is Rejected?
If you receive a negative answer in your Switzerland Schengen visa application, this does not mean you cannot ever travel to Switzerland. You have two options:
- File an appeal for Swiss Schengen visa rejection if you believe that the decision to deny you a visa is unjust. You should have a strong basis for your complaint. You can appeal this decision by writing an appeal letter for a Switzerland Schengen visa rejection.
- Reapply by correcting the mistakes you did in your previous application. Or improve your situation in order to comply with the eligibility criteria for a Swiss Schengen Visa.
Switzerland Schengen Visa Extension
A person visiting Switzerland on a Schengen visa is allowed by law to extend their visa if they have legitimate reasons. This could be either personal, professional, medical, emergency, or any other. The decisions to approve a Schengen visa extension request are handled case by case.
The duration you are allowed to stay in the country is stated in your Schengen visa sticker. It is important not to overstay during your trip to Switzerland or the rest of the Schengen Zone or risk facing penalties like a fine, deportation, being banned from travelling back to the Schengen Zone and having difficulties in your future Schengen applications.
There are also cases when people do not get any penalties for overstaying, for example, a child or a person that cannot travel without a caretaker because of an illness or disability or an unforeseen event that prevents you from leaving the country, like COVID-19.
Find out more about overstaying in the Schengen visa in our blog post.
Switzerland Schengen Visa Extension Process
The overall process of extending your Swiss Schengen visa will involve:
- Determining whether you have a justified reason to request for an extension
- Submitting all the necessary documents. These include a valid passport that has the Schengen Visa used to get in the Schengen area stamped in it, one passport-sized photo, proof of financial subsistence, Schengen Visa Insurance that covers the extension duration, and all the documents that justify your reason for an extension
- Paying visa fees where applicable
- Attending a visa interview if necessary
- Waiting for the approval
You must apply for a Schengen visa extension before it expires. It may take a few days to a month for the authorities to process your visa extension request, during which you are legally permitted to stay in the country where you applied for the Schengen Visa but cannot travel to other Schengen Countries.
If your visa extension request is approved, you can extend your stay in the Schengen Area until the visa validity.
If your visa extension application is rejected, you will have to leave the Schengen area in a day or two.
Switzerland Schengen Visa Frequently Asked Questions
Is a Switzerland Schengen visa easy to get?
Yes! You can apply for the visa online or use immigration services like IaM to make the process even simpler for you and have a higher chance of your application being accepted.
How long does a Switzerland Schengen visa take to process?
You can apply for a Switzerland Schengen visa up to 180 days before your trip. The Switzerland visa application process takes a minimum of 5 working days, but can take up to 2 weeks. We advise you to make your application 3 weeks before your trip to make up for any possible delays in processing.
How much is a Schengen visa for Switzerland?
The fee for a Swiss Schengen visa is 80€ for adults, 40€ for children between 6-12 years of age, and free for children younger than 6 years of age. Keep in mind that these fees may change depending on currency fluctuations and can be paid only in UK Pounds. Payments can be made in cash and by credit or debit card. Find out about the Schengen visa fee in our blog post: Schengen Visa Fees – How Much Does a Schengen Visa Cost?
How can I get Swiss Schengen visa fast?
You can get IaM’s premium Schengen visa service to get your Swiss Schengen visa within 24 to 48 hours, which includes personalised advice from an expert immigration adviser.
What currency does Switzerland use?
Switzerland uses the Swiss franc, indicated as CHF. Switzerland is not a part of the European Union therefore the country is not required to convert to the Euro. However, you will find that many shops will indicate their prices in euro so that visitors may compare prices.
How much money do I need to show in my bank account for a Switzerland Schengen visa?
You will need CHF100 per day (CHF30 for students) that you spend in Switzerland.
What other countries can I travel to on a Switzerland Schengen visa?
You can travel to any of the 26 countries in the Schengen area, as well as 18 other countries.
Are you ready to make your Switzerland Schengen visa application? Is there anything we missed or anything you need clarification on? Comment below.
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If you need help with a US visa, a UK Visa, or visa to Europe, including help with appointment booking obligations, IaM can help. For more information and advice on US immigration, UK immigration law and US visa applications or if you need any help or assistance please, reach out to your Visa Coordinator at IaM.
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